Large volumes of cyclists at junctions

I drive a 7.5 tonne lorry in London on occasion, yesterday I was pulling out on to the Queen's Circus roundabout from the A3216. I had proximally 10 to 15 cyclists coming from my left and my right as well as vehicles already on the roundabout which I'm sure you can appreciate is a lot of variables to consider.

Three times I had to stop sharp as people on bicycles cut right in front of the lorry as I was about to pull out onto the roundabout.

Why do they feel it's right to overtake and undertake at a junction and place themselves in harms way like this?

I did not set out to kill anyone when I left that morning and it's only by sheer luck that I didn't hit anyone.

It seemed that every cyclist was in a way trying to get ahead of each other, would it not be safer for all concerned to form a queue and not squeeze into the smallest space in a lorries blind spot?

This site is about promoting safety, where can I report poor cycling standards to so maybe something can be achieved to make it safer?

Replies

  • By Leshere at 2:20pm 14 November 2013

Well done for posting up here, you make some interesting points.

1.  Cyclists come form every side because the system is confusing.  In many ways we are encouraged to pass traffic on the left yet this is clearly not safe so those that are confident pass on the right.  Getting in front is a way fo keeping safe and also a reflection that cycles are moving faster than traffic much of the time.

2.  Roundabouts, and particularly busy ones pose a particular hazard as recent events highlight.  These are places where there is an urgent need for separation: possibly enforced.  There a plenty of good examples of roundabout design that work (Netherlands are the most often quoted) these create a safe zone for pedestrians and cyclists and priorities are clear. 

3.  There is bad cycling just as there is bad driving.  Enforcement is lax and no doubt the Police are not sufficiently staffed.  Clamping down on reckless cycling, driving over the speed limit and enforcing existing laws is a great idea. 

4.  There is a distinction however...bad cyclists seldom cause much significant harm to others.  Cars, vans and lorries however harm and main and kill.  If you handle a lethal instrument then you have a responsibility to all those around you.  For example if you cannot see all around your vehicle it is clearly not suited to the density of traffic in London.

 

  • By dezzie at 5:48pm 14 November 2013

Also I would venture the cyclists that you complain about are not the ones being killed, it's the ones who form a queue and are behind or to the side of you, i.e. in your blind spot that are at risk.

But my main concern is that admit you are driving a vehicle with a blind spot. We don't allow blind drivers on the road, why do we allow vehicles with blind spots.

I was taught to ensure the space I am about to drive into is clear. If you can't see the space you are about to occupy on the road, why do you move.

You could make a brave stand and refuse to drive any vehicle with a blind spot. You would be a hero.

  • By Shannon at 10:33pm 15 November 2013

Good on you Dale for writing in. See if you can get a sticker saying don't ride in the inside and another saying 'I have blind spots watch my mirrors'. It isn't much, but if it stops one accident or near miss it's worth it. If you ever have a chance, get any riders you know (or even the odd stranger) to sit in your cab, get them to spread the word. Prehaps you could ride a bike aroud your lorry so you can find out the worst areas and show people. Or even better, ride bike for a couple of miles and get a feel for HGVs. I can't recomend this enough. I rode a motorbike for a few years and it has given me a lifelong sixth sense for sneeky scooters. Priceless. I don't know when it will become law to fit guards to stop people going under the wheels, but your boss may want to get ahead of the curve. Some contracts insist on it. 'Danger I'm turning left' on those loud speakers. Techno mirrors? Even cctv. These all help. But I guess your question was about cycling behavior. Something you can do. As I mentioned, talk to riders you know, tell people. Cyclists talk to each other and the word will spread. The best tip you can hand on is why HGVs tack right and leave a big inviting gap on the near side just before a left turn. Not every one knows it. Took me a while to spot that one because I only ever overtake vehicles. I've been riding for twenty years and I'll be happy to learn things for twenty more. I do feel for you guys up there, I'd be sick with worry. Per job contracts add to the pressure. If incentives were different, most drivers would drive at a snails pace untill well clear of junctions, but things are currently stacked against that. It may seem long term stuff, but it's worth while. Idiots notwithstanding, cylists generaly take safety seriously as we have everything to loose. It isn't just an absract concept. Check out the posts on stopping at red lights on most sites and you will find we are a fairly moral bunch. Anyway, cheers for starting to engage with us on two wheels, we need good folk join in with solutions. Take care and happy driving.

  • By phufbl at 1:07am 17 November 2013

Dale,

Thanks for writing. I was not there so I have no idea whether the cyclists you are talking about were being reckless or not, but as someone else has said there are as many silly cyclists as there are any other road user. You must remember though that cycling in heavy traffic is difficult, especially at junctions and roundabouts as cyclists are often not given road space by other road users.

It is not always sensible for cyclists to go to the front of a queue. However often if you join the back of a queue as a cyclist a motor vehicle will pull up next to you to occupy the same lane space that you are in (no matter how far into the middle of the lane you position yourself) which effectively forces you forward as the only place to not be in someone's blind spot is at the front of the queue. Alternatively it often happens that a motor vehicle will "half overtake" on the approach to the back of a queue, by which I mean they will effectively pull up alongside you without ever going past, again squeezing you forward. 

In the case of a busy roundabout including 7.5tonne trucks I think the London Cycling Campaign, most cyclists and probably most drivers of 7.5tonne trucks would much rather a situation of complete segregation of cyclists and motor traffic.

If your goal is to make things safer then write to your MP or local councillor or sign LCC petitions to introduce dutch style road planning including segregation of bicycle and motor traffic on high volume, high speed roads. 

hello guys

In London are many stupid and danger cyclists and drivers.

Some of drivers are not look in all directions.They give signal in last moment when turn left or right.

In London are many bad and danger junctions.

There are many bad cyclists.

We have to make cycling law of UK roads which every road user to follow strictly.

Dale

I cycle to work sometimes, but am perhaps lucky that my route does not have large roundabouts or very many lorries.  However, I am amazed at how many cyclists think that they should be in front of everything else at every junction or when the traffic is setting off from a junction. I even saw one guy nearly knock 3 other cyclists off their bikes the other day as he raced and weaved to "get to the front" regardless of where other people were positioning themselves.

Unfortunately, I think that many cyclists in London have never learned to drive and so are totally unaware of "traffic".

Personally, I know that any lump of steel is potentially dangerous - and so I try to drive and cycle bearing this in mind !

Dezzie - I think Dale was saying that the bikes should stay behind him and NOT suddenly appear on all sides - trying to under and overtake him as he is setting off onto a roundabout. 

At a roundabout a motorist already has to look for a suitable gap in the traffic into which to accelerate - he was there first and he should not have cyclists over and undertaking as he tries to deal with the entry to the roundabout - makes sense to me - if I was setting off in my car onto a roundabout and a cyclist suddenly appears at a front corner of my car - how am I supposed to know what his next movement will be ? As with other "traffic" the first person there is the one who should have "right of way" - not be forced to wait for a queue jumper who should have been creating their own road space behind.

The trouble is that the current road infrastructure explicitly tells cyclists to get to the front un the inside of vehicles. ASLs and the 'lead in' lanes (and cycle lanes in general) are seen by many people as where cyclists are 'supposed' to be. The Highway Code says they may make you safer.

Improve the infrastructure and you remove the 'problem'.

  • By phufbl at 9:55am 19 November 2013

Helen2000 is right that it is not always the best or a safe thing to do to go right to the front of the queue. However I wouldn't call it queue jumping, a queue forms because not as many motor vehicles can get through a junction than are arriving at the junction, but you could fit 10 cyclists through the same space in the time that one car got through. The queue is caused by motor traffic and I don't think the resulting delay should be applied to non-polluting, non-congestion causing and relatively non-dangerous bikes just in the interest of "fairness". Just because motorists are suffering a delay which they have caused I don't think cyclists should, and in fact the speed of a bicycle through traffic is one of the major advantages of cycling. If cyclists were compelled to stay at the back of a queue then no one would cycle and we would have more congested, more polluted and more dangerous roads. I'm not saying yuo should always go to the very front, and I don't.

Cyclists are much more analogous to pedestrians than to motor traffic. They are small, light, relatively slow and have no metal outer shell to protect them. We would never tell pedestrians that they have to walk in the road and share it with 7.5 tonne trucks. It is even unacceptable for a pedestrian to share a pavement with a cyclist. So why are cyclists forced to share road space with 7.5 tonne trucks?

There are two points here. One is the practical and pragmatic approach to queues and junctions by cyclists and how to safely share a road with 7.5tonne trucks, but the more fundamental point is why are cyclists having to share the road with 7.5tonne trucks?

As a cyclist constantly hearing that lorry's cause accidents I always consider whether or not to pass a lorry or hang back and wait.  Occasionally, Trying to pass a lorry to get to the front and the lights change, is a nerve racking experience as it is not clear whether the driver has spotted you.  

This is the cyclists responsibility to chill out and hang back or risk going under the front. Always shop well in front of a lorry, always look back to see if you can see the driver, as if you can, he can also see you.  Never, pass a lorry on the inside of you can go around the outside and at a juntion always hang back.  

 

phufbl : I did notmean to stay at he back of the queue if there is one - but to wait behind the vehicle about to set off from the roundabout rather than swarming around from left and right when the driver has to concentrate on the roundabout traffic he is trying to join.

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